042 – My Abbotsford Airport Swoop Experiment

While writing this, I am waiting for my flight. However, this time it’s different than any previous times I was waiting for my flight. I have never been to this airport before, and I have never flown this airline before.

There have always been 2 main airlines that I fly on; Air Canada and WestJet, and my main frequent flights have been back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver. Recently, a new option has come to my attention, which people often refer to as “budget airlines”. I have never taken “budget airlines” before, as they don’t tend to fly out of the main airports nearly as much due to the high operating cost. When I lived in Toronto, it was extremely easy for me to go to Person International Airport (YYZ) which is for the large airlines, meaning I never had a reason to venture outside of the city to other smaller airports, and thus was never exposed to these smaller airlines.

Recently, a few of these airlines have started flying between BC and Ontario, with routes between from Abbotsford, BC (just outside of Vancouver) and London, ON, which is actually closer to my parents then Toronto is.

With this trip to Ontario, I decided to give it a go and booked my ticket with Swoop Airlines. You may ask why? Well, the cost of this whole roundtrip was basically the same price as an on-sale one-way ticket from the major airlines, even after the bus fare to get to the Abbotsford airport from my house!

Let me just breakdown the differences, upsides and downsides from my experience so far. Here’s what my day looks like:

Vancouver to Toronto on Major Airline

  1. 45-min commute from home to airport on public transit ($3)

  2. 15-min security line to get into the waiting area

  3. Waiting for 2.5 hours in a fairly comfortable area with lots of shops, food and snacks to buy, free wifi to use

  4. 5-hr flight between Vancouver and Toronto (5hrs, between $290-$490 one way, free personal item and carry on bag + $29 for seat selection)

  5. 2-hr drive once picked up from Toronto to my parents

  6. Total travel time (typically) door to door: 10 am – 9 pm (11 hours)

  7. My last Air Canada flight one-way cost: $320

Abbotsford to London on Swoop

  1. 10-min Public Transit from home to Pacific Central Station ($3)

  2. 90-min bus (eBus, includes free wifi and power) from PCS to Abbotsford Airport ($35)

  3. 5 hr waiting and working in the airport, with free wifi, only 1 restaurant option, but far less busy. I did take the closest timed bus.

  4. 4-hour flight to London ($79 for expensive ticket, free personal item + $35 for carry-on bag + $30 for seat selection)

  5. 45-min drive once picked up in London

  6. Total travel time: 7:45am – 8pm (12 hours)

  7. Approx one-way cost: $185

For what seems like more inconvenient travel (since I have to go to the airport 5 hours before my flight, which is still only 3 hours earlier then I would typically go) it ends up being only 1 hour extra of travel time. I got lots of time to sit and work (which I am okay with), and it’s almost half as expensive, especially when you get into the higher rates on those other airlines.

Now, how has my experience been? I took eBus to the airport which had lots of room, power and wifi on board, so I got work done while we drove. Once at the airport I spent a couple of hours outside security, then security was fast since there were far fewer people. I then sat at a table with power and worked with very few people around. The airport is much smaller and nowhere to walk around, only one restaurant with not great food (my wallet thanked me), but overall it’s still the same airport seating as everywhere else so it doesn’t make much difference.

Now on the plane, the staff have been extremely lovely, very helpful, friendly and professional young women. The plane is a Bowing 737-800, and I am located in the emergency row (with no one besides me!) so I do have lots of legroom and am quite comfortable. I have been getting work done and there’s power as well. There is internet available if I was interested, priced at $20 for the whole flight, or $9 for 90-mins of browsing time.

I will be doing this again. If I had someone to drive me to the airport in the morning that would be nice, but it’s been a great experience, and the small inconveniences are outweighed by the price and convenience of landing in London.

That’s my initial experience using Swoop. Have you used it before and what were your experiences?

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

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